Lexicon by Max Barry and my first recommended reading list

17 Jul

Let me just tell you this right now: You should read this book. This is a great book. This book is the summer read for you. That is, if you’re like me and you love books and you love words. If you hate words and you hate books I’m not sure why you are reading my humble blog. My advice would be to start reading and learn to love words.

“Lexicon” is a book about a group of people (can I just say secret society? It sounds cooler) who have unlocked the ability of words to persuade. They have learned that by studying words how they are used and how people perceive and understand words they can persuade people to do just about anything that they want them to do. So a school is made and once you learn about personality types and origins of words, etc, you might become a poet. A poet is someone who is really really good with words and when you become one you get to be named after one.

Let’s be honest at this point: This is basically the number one reason I loved this book.

So, we are dropped into the story with this guy called an outlier. But we don’t know what an outlier is and we don’t know why so many people have been persuaded to kill him. Then later we meet this girl named Emily (#2 reason I got sucked in, obvi) who is really good at persuasion and who gets to go to the Academy where she learns all about words.

This book has action, timely storylines about people giving the general public very personalized ads and information based on sneakily gaining access to their information via surveys and browsing history (I said timely, right?), and a big twist at the end involving a town in Australia where a word is released that causes everyone to die (this gives nothing away I promise!).

What I loved best about this story is that Max Barry really knows how to keep the action, suspense, and story going. Barry does not sacrifice anything for his story and he certainly doesn’t sacrifice his craft to get the story told. Large revelations are made with a single sentence. You learn character histories in single flashback stories. This is a remarkable book. And this book is  part of a new list of recommendations I will be giving people who are looking for fun, quirky, and a little bit nerdy books to read.

I give you:

Emily’s Favorite Books about Books or Books about things geeks love:

1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: Not a book about books but it IS about ’80s pop culture so books, movies, and video games are heavily involved. GO READ IT NOW.

2. Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde: This isn’t about books or anything but it is about a world with varying shades of color. A book about COLOR. This society is all about who can see how much color in which spectrum (Red, Yellow, Blue, etc). The people with the highest color sight, you guessed it, are also the wealthiest.

3. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan: This is a lot like Lexicon by Max Barry. This is about a bookstore that is really a front for a secret society that is trying to unlock to the secret to immortality through code breaking. It’s exciting, it’s fresh, and it’s totally nerdy.

4. The Eyre Affair (and though I haven’t read it, I believe you might also enjoy the Nursey Crimes books!) by….JASPER FFORDE. It’s like Fforde loves to read or something given the amount of geeky and literary themes books he writes. This one is great though I had to abandon the series awhile back when I started college.

5. The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry: This one was great. It was a mystery set in a kind of otherworld, one like ours, but different. I enjoyed the plot and there was a real “quirkiness” to this particular story that I think only certain kinds of readers will appreciate.

6. Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart: So, this is a pop culture kind of book. It’s all about social media in the future and it references books a lot. But in a way to illustrate how dumb people are getting. Book snobs everywhere can appreciate how so many people aren’t reading (though, from my perspective as a Librarian it feels like MORE people are reading in general).

7. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan: This is less literary and more music related but it’s another pop culture infused novel that makes pop culture references smart instead of as a way of dating the book. READ IT NOW.

8. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu: Another “Read it now and forever be changed.” I love Yu’s writing and I loved the way this story is written. I read this pre-Doctor Who obsession so I should probably read it again to see if there are any references (when it comes to time travel it seems absurd to think a writer would NOT include the Doctor)

9. John Dies at the End by David Wong: Hilarious, dirty, and full of great adventure this one is sure to make any reader laugh out loud while going along with the soy sauce induced intergalactic adventure.

10. The Magicians by Lev Grossman: MAGIC IS REAL GO READ THIS BOOK.

These are books I’ve read and loved. I bet there are a million other books about books that would go better on this list but I’m recommending books I’ve read. It’s more personal that way. If you want something new because you’ve read these already head over to your local library and ask a librarian for some help!

One Response to “Lexicon by Max Barry and my first recommended reading list”

  1. Michael Allan Leonard July 18, 2013 at 2:29 am #

    I’ll have to check that out — I *loved* one of Max’s other books, Jennifer Government, and Lexicon sounds like it’s cut from the same cloth. Thanks for pointing it out!

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